It seems like almost everyone today knows someone who has food allergies, yet not everyone understands what it’s like to live with them.
About 6 years ago, I developed adult on-set food allergies. My world was turned upside down. Going out to eat was no longer an option; I had to cook everything at home and pretty much learn a whole new way to eat.
It was a lifestyle change that took some adjustment, and I was hopeful that my daughter wouldn’t develop food allergies since I developed them after I had her.
Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case. A few months ago, my daughter had a severe reaction to a food and hives covered her entire body.
Again, my world was turned upside down. Having them as an adult is one thing, but my child developing them was not something I was prepared for. I wanted to scream, to ask the universe why she had to deal with something so life-impacting at 9 years old.
While it wasn’t as much of an issue for me because I can control my environment more easily and voice my issues, it’s not always as easy for children. Those parents at the playground who think that it’s ok to bring a nut-filled granola bar as a snack because their child “won’t share it” create a life-threatening risk for people with food allergies.
I’ve come to realize that nothing is going to be done about ignorance of food allergies unless we start educating. And that’s the role that I’m trying to take. I want everyone to understand what it’s like for food allergic kids and adults, and to hopefully eliminate the threat of a severe reaction. It doesn’t take much, and you could literally save a life.
Here are some tips for those of you living without food allergies to make life easier for those of us with food allergies:
1. Food allergies can kill. I know it may be hard to believe, but even the scent and microscopic particles of a certain food can send severely allergic individuals into anaphylaxis and lead to death. If someone you know has one of these severe allergies, please make every attempt to keep them away from the trigger food.
2. You can still be friends. Many people feel intimidated by food allergies, and will no longer invite food allergic friends over to their house. Just because my daughter and I can’t eat the food you prepare, doesn’t mean that we don’t want to visit with you in a non-food environment.
3. Offer alternative foods. If you’re having a party, make sure you ask your guests if they have any food allergies or intolerances. Invite them to share a dish that they like so they can still be included in the festivities and not feel out of place.
4. Don’t be offended. Often food allergies are so severe that we can’t eat out of pots and pans that have had certain foods in them. Please respect that and don’t be offended when we politely decline to taste the dish you’ve made.
5. And finally, the last thing any of us want is to have food allergies and lose our friends. Be empathetic and try to understand that food allergies aren’t something that any of us want to live with. Put yourself in our shoes and try to understand what a life-impacting change this is, and be there for us when we need someone to just listen about how hard it can be.
I’m Amy Lowe, a stay-at-home mom who discovered bargain-hunting as a means of self-preservation. I love spending money way too much, and finding bargains became like a game of “How much can I get for only $25?”. Saving money really can be fun, and there are tons of great deals to find!
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